Executives everywhere are facing new decisions about where and how their employees will work. With some employees thriving in remote working environments, leaders are reassessing their office needs for the coming years. Instead of requiring everyone to come back to an office setting, they are weighing remote working opinions.
Recently PWC published their US Remote Work Survey and found that as vaccines become widely available, companies are planning to start bringing back employees in earnest. And they mention that most companies are going with a hybrid solution, “…where a large number of office employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces. This model embraces the flexibility that most employees (and some employers) crave after working from home for months. It’s also a complicated way to organize the workweek and is likely to transform a company’s culture, employee engagement, the way the work gets done, and how office space is used.”
Not surprisingly, few executives believe you can maintain company culture in a purely remote working arrangement, with 84% responding that employees should be in the office at least two days per week. Another finding that is not surprising based on what we’ve seen over the past months, is that remote working has been a success, with 83% of respondents saying this about their organization.
Less than 20% of executives said they plan to return to the office in the same way they worked prior to 2020. There is a slight difference in how quickly executives and employees expect to be at half staff working in the office, with executives responding that it will be sooner, though employees also understand the importance of being in the office, with nearly 90% saying it’s necessary for collaboration and building relationships.
Another area where executives and employees differ slightly is how many days a week they expect staff to be in the office. More than half of employees said they would like to work remotely three days a week, whereas more than two-thirds of executives want to see employees in the office three days a week.
As you might expect, 87% of executives plan to take a new approach to their real estate strategy. It’s not all downsizing. Some will consolidate offices, some will look at satellite offices, and 56% said they will consider expanding office space in the coming years.
As we all come back to offices in the coming months, it’s important to set expectations and adapt to changes. For example, you will need to determine who should be in the office and when, what the protocols are for distancing and cleaning common spaces, and what type of work should be done in the office, such as a client or team meeting. At the same time, to retain employees and attract new ones, you will also need to keep an open mind for remote roles, either part-time or full-time.
There is no doubt the office situation for companies is going to be more complicated than it ever has been in the past. Executive teams must partner with HR to determine the optimal approach for their organization. They must balance productivity, engagement, culture, health and safety, and financial considerations. If you have questions about maintaining culture as you bring employees back to the office, let us know how we can help.